Money & Career
ECONOMIC INNOVATION: Aeroframe helps SOWELA students earn while they learn Students get jobs with benefits as they pursue their aviation degree
6/3/2013 12:51:24 PM

The ambitious new Aeroframe-SOWELA partnership is an innovation in workforce development. It's the Aircraft Intern Maintenance (AIM) program, which enables students who have committed themselves to the aircraft maintenance industry to launch their career while studying for their associate degree.

The program was announced to students at the SOWELA aviation hangar.

"I'm excited about this effort," said Aeroframe General Manager Herbert Curtis, who led a discussion with students and educators inside a SOWELA training hangar when he announced the program.

With Curtis were Aeroframe's Bruce Campbell, manpower asset planning manager, and Shirley Olivier, human resources and payroll manager.

"We're happy we can offer this program," Campbell said. "We have the facility, we just need the people."

Aeroframe is based at Chennault International Airport adjacent to SOWELA. It performs aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul work for a wide variety of clients -- and the workforce it needs can be trained right next door.

SOWELA Chancellor Dr. Neil Aspinwall called the unique partnership with neighboring Aeroframe "a wonderful opportunity for students."

AIM is open to students who have already been in SOWELA's aviation maintenance curriculum for a year.

"We have about 19 students that are eligible for this program, and Aeroframe said they'd take all 19," said Melvin Cox, chairman of the Industrial and Transportation Technology Department.

As for the pay, the benefits and the scope of what AIM will offer students, "you just don't hear things like that," Cox said. "I almost fell out my chair."

Specifically, students will be able to work afternoon and evening hours on weekdays (30 hours or more, flexible) so they'll have time free for classes. They will earn $10 per hour, with a $1 raise after 90 days, and will be eligible for health, vision and dental benefits ╦ťand, after one year, participation in a 401(k) retirement savings plan.

The work will involve removing and installing seat assemblies, sidewall panels, carpet and floorboards; cleaning aircraft parts; and taking direction from cabin supervisors. Student workers who show potential for advancement will be mentored by Aeroframe master mechanics.

Students completing the SOWELA program will be eligible to promotion to full-time junior mechanic -- which has a base pay of $16 per hour. Further, Aeroframe will pay an extra $1 per hour for each license earned and an extra 50 cents per hour once the associate degree is achieved. Aeroframe also offers compensation for Federal Aviation Administration exams. Essentially, students who already have achieved certain levels of training stand to walk into an Aeroframe job at an even higher level of pay.

Students must maintain a 2.5 grade point average, stay in school and graduate.

"Our purpose is to increase the local interest in the industry, to support the students who are diligently working to attain their dreams and to encourage those students to finish their degree and obtain the FAA Airframe and Powerplant license by opening a wide door of opportunities to their careers," Aeroframe said in its official program announcement.

Posted by: Brett Downer | Submit comment | Tell a friend

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